Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Slushy Slog of Spring

The smooth outer fabric of my puffy jacket embraces my fingers as I lift it into the closet. It’s a familiar feeling and a routine, repeated countless Sunday evenings from late fall to mid-Spring – if I’m lucky. I unpack the contents of my ski bag, send wet layers for a whirl through the dryer, damp and dry ones back into the closet, where they’ll hang, on standby, ready for next weekend.
Instead, I’m probably hanging them up for the season.

I hate this time of year.

As my fingers release the jacket to a waiting hanger, I know, that with each passing spring weekend, this could be the last time I repeat this routine.
The seasons are changing, the mountains are melting, summer is coming.
Eventually, maybe tonight, this will be the last time, for many months. My shell, snow pants, and puffy, might hang here for months before again, I’ll find myself filling up my pack.
Already, I can see that future trip, to chase this first snows, high above Crow Pass, Hatcher, or maybe even that dream-fulfilled of an epic early season dump that puts us on slope right from the cars.
Already, I long for that anticipation and anxiety that comes with an early season snowpack, wondering, what the future holds.
Already, I can seem the November sky, skinning through snow-covered trees, disappearing under pillowy mushroom like formations, watching the surrounding mountains fill in, and underlying vegetation disappear.

I don’t know why this shoulder season, winter to summer, hurts so much. It doesn’t make sense, really. The days are getting longer and warmer, the plants are coming back out from the rich-smelling earth, and the birds are singing.
The transition to winter is harsh. The darkness, the cold, the stormy weather, they all conspire. Heck, there’s no guarantee winter will even happen after all that torture. It could still feel like October in January; the snowpack could harbor weak layers all season and fail to build; but summer, it always shows up. Sure, it could be a wet and cool one, there might be more or less rain, a fire, but one way or another, it’s coming.
Shouldn’t I find solace in that?
The blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the last season. A few years ago, after a completely lackluster winter and overly hot spring, I literally could not wait for summer to get in gear.
After a great, cold, snowy winter like the one we just had though, uninterrupted by intrusions from the warm season, it’s just hard to look forward, without just wishing I could instead, fast-forward, to next winter.

Winter hides in the high, cold, shadows. Photo N.W.